AW Comments on Proposed Sunset Falls Hydro Project (WA)

posted July 19, 2013
by Megan Hooker

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Earlier today, American Whitewater was joined by the Alpine Lakes Protection Society, American Rivers, Conservation Northwest, North Cascades Conservation Council, Sierra Club – Washington State Chapter, The Mountaineers, Washington Wild and Wild Washington Rivers in filing comments on the Snohomish PUD No. 1's proposal to build a hydroelectric project at Sunset Falls on the South Fork Skykomish River in Washington. If built, the project would significantly reduce flows in the Skykomish River, carrying numerous impacts to fish and wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity, recreation and scenic values - including reducing the majestic Canyon and Sunset Falls to a trickle.

Sunset Falls is well known to paddlers as the traditional starting point for the run known simply as the "Sky" and is recognized in the book Whitewater Classics. The powerhouse would be constructed by blasting away the bedrock that forms the traditional seal launch into the pool at the base of Sunset Falls. Our comments call for an extensive and detailed study into the impacts of the proposed project on recreation.

The comments were filed in response to Snohomish PUD No. 1's Pre-Application Document and Notice of Intent to seek a hydropower license, filed on March 21, 2013; and Scoping Document and Request for Comments, filed May 20, 2013 with the Energy Regulatory Commision

As was noted in our web-post earlier this week, there is questionable economic justification for the project. And, in addition to strong public opposition to the project, the South Fork Skykomish is a State Scenic Waterway, in a Northwest Power and Conservation Council Protected Area, and is recommended for federal designation as a Wild and Scenic River for its remarkable scenic, recreational, fish, and wildlife values. The proposed project is inconsistent with these state and regional plans.

Our comments can be found here.


Associated Projects

  • Skykomish Stewardship (WA)
    AW is actively engaged in the conservation of the Skykomish River and its tributaries and advocacy for public access.

Associated Rivers

Skykomish, S. Fork [WA]

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